“Honourable Paradza’s last question was whether l was surprised that a 28 year old was employed. No, l was actually happy l hope we can have more. “This country has a lot of young people who deserve to be given their chance just as l think there are a lot of female professionals who deserve their chance’’. These were some of the most progressive words ever uttered by a public official in Zimbabwe in a very long time. The Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo was responding to Paradza who had questioned the appointment of a 28 year old as Editor of the Sunday Mail.
Paradza’s comments were well-intentioned but the reality is that age should never be used to relegate the youth of this country to second class citizenry. Zimbabwe’s future is inseparable from the future of the young people. Youth is a withering aptitude that requires harnessing; it is not a question of years but a life yet unaffected by lethargy and tragedy, living on hope not just memories of the good old times.
Youth brings with it that zest and thirst for learning, that hunger and drive that has slowly been stagnating with age in a number of officials. The key is to merge experience, education and expertise with that youthful drive. The active participation of young people in government and decision making is critical in ensuring that their raw knowledge, skills and energy are harnessed appropriately for the development of the country. The young ones of today are the future leaders and elders of tomorrow, they need examples not disparagers.
What Information Minister Jonathan Moyo brought to the forefront is crucial and requires dialogue and urgent action plans on the part of government. Strengthening youth structures and networks and ensuring that they have the right skills and information needed to be involved in public policy and national planning processes is critical to national development. Empowering the youth of Zimbabwe should not be just about slogans and politicking but tangible action to drive up national processes. It is the simple things that matter to the young people of this country and it is the simple gestures that endears the leadership and the elders to this vital national component.
Elected officials have a duty to prioritise the youth and a commitment to make things simple for the young people to feel empowered and valued in Zimbabwe. The youth of this country are first class citizens as everyone else and they deserve a chance to realise their full potential, to be heard and to make a difference for the good of the Zimbabwe. The young have the unique and raw ability to be talented and innovative trouble-shooters as opposed to recycled and lethargic unproductive palm-greasing elders, no offence intended. The government owes it to the young people of Zimbabwe to trust them into senior positions in some of the failing parastatals and government departments to drive up national proceedings.Advertisement
Zimbabwe has an educated population and the young people of this country have to feel empowered and able to engage positively with governance structures. That the young people of this country are the future leaders of tomorrow is not just a mere statement because they indeed are the future leaders of this country. It is an open secret that our current leaders are getting on a bit and naturally they are going to be replaced. The replacement is going to come from the youth of this country. From an age point of view there is absolutely nothing wrong with a 28 year old being an editor all things being equal. Of course national security and national preservation is paramount and takes priority over all else. The country however has to positively continue mobilising this youthful vibrancy and verve.
The young people of this country do possess the power and potential to address some of the considerable social, political and economic challenges currently facing Zimbabwe. The key to start unlocking the untapped potential of the young people of Zimbabwe is to start acknowledging them as productive citizens of the country and not putting them down at any level. There is huge potential locked up in the youth of this country and the government has a responsibility to harness this yet-to-be-realised possibility.
The young people need to be listened to, offered the necessary support to grow, encourage rather than put them down, praise them when they make progress, reprimand when they make mistakes but not chastise permanently and recognise that everyone deserves the chance to succeed. There is a place for wisdom of the elderly and the energy of youth. Sometimes there is no point in recycling the same old tried and tired seniors at the expense of the hungry and expectant youth.
The young people of Zimbabwe deserve the chance to prove their worth in senior positions. Zimbabweans are the most enterprising, hard-working, creative and innovative sons and daughters of Africa and all they want are systems and services that function. Being young is not a crime but country-defining prospect. The key is to reconcile the wisdom and knowledge of old age with the strength and fearlessness of youth. It is retrogressive to underestimate the true potential of the young.
Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org